Chapter 17 » 17.10


Memorial meetings

It may be right to hold a memorial meeting for worship to give thanks for the life of a Friend who has died. Sometimes, when local circumstances allow little time at the place of cremation or burial, a meeting will be held before or afterwards, allowing time for Friends to travel to or from the crematorium or cemetery. Sometimes a memorial meeting will be arranged at a later date at the convenience of relatives and local Friends. Occasionally a memorial meeting may be held soon after the death but the funeral only much later (for example, when the body has been lost at sea, or donated for medical education and research). The particular circumstances will affect the nature of the occasion and the balance of grief, loss and thankfulness.

Memorial meetings as well as special meetings on the occasion of a funeral demand great sensitivity to individual needs. The memorial meeting for a Friend whose life was lived in the local meeting will spring from and deepen the worshipping community of those Friends. If the deceased was someone whose links with the meeting were less strong, but who was well known in the wider community, the occasion may tend towards greater formality. When non-members are likely to be present, a great responsibility is laid on the local elders to ensure that the meeting is rightly held, and that its purpose is made clear to those who attend (12.12.f).

An elder, or other designated Friend, should be appointed to explain briefly how the meeting will be conducted, how long it is likely to last, and how it will be concluded. The length of the meeting may vary but Friends will be sensitive to the wishes of the relatives as well as to the spiritual condition of the meeting as it moves towards a natural ending.

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